Since the kingdom of Morocco left the OAU in 1984, the Kingdom’s participation with the African states has been seen by its enterprise involvement in several fields like oil imports and humanitarian aid. At the end of the 90s, under the King Mohammed VI rule, Morocco’s African alignments accept a new measurement whereby, continental banking, commercial and economic exchanges took the significant stage in Morocco’s re-engagement with the African States. The main objective for this collaboration and mutual African team banding was to build up a solid South-South strategy cooperation, tapping into Morocco’s longstanding historical, cultural, geopolitical and economic band with the African continent.
On the beginning of July, the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Union(AU) meeting, which took place in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania which is expectedly going to discuss a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue.
Depending on the African Union calendar released, this meeting will hold the presentation of three main reports, including a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue, conferred by Moussa Faki Mohamed, Chairman of the AU Commission.
Basically, this is the first time that the Western Sahara dispute has been conferred with the calendar of an African Union conference since the Kingdom’s return to the African organization last year, after it had left the country three decades ago because of the same issue, which necessitates the kingdom of Morocco would face any challenge to its national case as its priority .
On Thursday, Moussa Faki Mohamed, head of the African Union Commission in Morocco, met with King Mohammed VI, Prime Minister Saad Eddin Othmani and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Nasser Bourita, along with some of the King’s advisors to discuss the Sahara Dispute which is a report in AU.
The communiqué issued by the African Union on Vicky’s visit to Morocco did not refer to the Sahara issue with Moroccan officials. The communiqué issued on Friday made reference to the role of the Kingdom in the Union Foundation, as well as issues of major concern.
The Moroccan government refuses the inclusion of the Sahara report in the AU calendar and esteems the report to be an exclusive competence of the United Nations, especially in the presence of a total of parties opposed to the Moroccan proposal, led by the separatist Polisario Front, supported and financed by Algeria and some other countries.
Additionally, to offering a report on the Moroccan Sahara Issue, it is anticipated that the 31st AU Meeting, on 1 and 2 July, will show a report on the tools and implementation of the institutional reform decision of the African Union by Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. Additional report on the Africa-Africa Free Trade Area will be handled by Mohamed Essovo, President of the Republic of Niger. Moussa Faki will come up with another report on the African Common Position on the African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries beyond 2020.
This African Union Agenda also includes the presentation of the subject of the year on “Victory in the struggle against corruption: a sustainable path towards African transformation”, to be seen by Mohamed Boukhari, President of the Republic of Nigeria, to be pursued by a debate by the Conference. The concluded sessions will argue the discussion of the activities of the Peace and Security Council on Africa, in which Morocco won a seat months ago.
The calendar of the African Meeting contains a report on the implementation of the African Union’s main roadmap for practical ways to silence guns in Africa in 2020, the adoption of the AU’s 2019 budget and the ratification of appointments in the Federation’s institutions.
Morocco’s acquisition to the African Union will undisputed change the policy of how the Pan-African organization stands the Western Sahara file. Despite Morocco’s diplomatic orientation to refine solving the Sahara dispute in a pragmatic way, its policy will sustain the same as for the acceptance of the SADR is concerned. The kingdom of Morocco is likely to endure its changeless policy to delegitimize any declare or allege of the Polisario in its search for being an independent state. It will also try to undermine the political impact of the Polisario leadership and its keen supporters, South Africa and Algeria.
At the same time, to disband the SADR from the African Union will be a weak mission, as the latter can only discourage other countries whose governments were agreed towards unconstitutional layers. Several African states refuse to disband the SADR. Regardless of Morocco’s intense African policy calendar and huge commercial economic projects, there stay countries who still cover the Polisario leadership. For instance, the case of Nigeria, which get advantage from Morocco’s economic bonus, continuing exercises its position to support the Polisario in their faith for independence.
Currently, the Kingdom of Morocco has used its diplomatic and economic might to return its empty seat at the African Union, it has to bestow that it is a capable partner whose membership will favor the African Union, therefore, solving and resolving the deadlock of an African colonial dispute. In contrast, the SADR can also urge for a resolution by sustaining powerful AU member states endorsement, especially, South Africa and Algeria, to guarantee the Kingdom of Morocco brings up some sort of a win-win barraging agreement.
Mozambique Marks Five Years of Extreme Violence in Cabo Delgado
Mozambique marks five years since extreme violence erupted in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, forcing nearly 1 million people to flee during that time in October. Currently government officials, international organizations and experts said there have been “remarkable progress” as businesses have restarted and displaced people began returning to Cabo Delgado.
Extreme violence and displacement have had a devastating impact on the population. People have witnessed their loved ones being killed, beheaded, and raped, and their houses and other infrastructure burned to the ground. Men and boys have also been forcibly enrolled in armed groups. Livelihoods have been lost, and education stalled while access to necessities such as food and healthcare has been hampered. Many people have been re-traumatized after being forced to move multiple times to save their lives.
Despite the relative calm in Cabo Delgado. some analysts still believe that all is not over. Analyst João Feijó thinks that armed violence in Cabo Delgado will continue, and that the authorities must be prepared to face “a marathon”, instead of “a race” that is soon over. “I think this conflict will be a marathon – it will not be the 1,500 meters race we thought it would be,” he told Lusa regarding the five years of conflict. The insurgent groups “play with time” and are prepared “to spend 10 or 20 years” terrorizing the region, “living in the bush, looting and stealing”.
“We don’t have that time,” he says, alluding to the country’s desire to get oil majors back to exploit natural gas, the need to put an end to a very expensive military intervention and the soldiers’ desire to return home.
Feijó believes that the government has realized that it will have to live with some degree of violence, something that could turn into a “low-intensity conflict” and the government itself has admitted that the problem of instability will last for several years, and we have to live with it,” he adds.
What is not known is whether this will be enough to restart the gas projects. The researcher says that the answer can only come from TotalEnergies, the oil major that had to abandon the works near Palma after the March 2021 attack, and which says it is still waiting for improved security.
The first attack took place in Mocímboa da Praia on October 5, 2017, in what was classifies as the first phase of the conflict. A second phase followed, with great pressure from rebel forces, which grew, established bases, occupied territory and led to the suspension of Mozambique’s gas projects, the largest private investment in Africa.
The military offensive by the allied forces reconquered the areas around gas-relevant sites like Palma and Mocímboa da Praia. The remaining rebels returned to the bush and restarted occasional attacks against relatively remote communities, only now expanding their area of action to include southern districts of Cabo Delgado and in Nampula province.
Reports monitored from the U.S. Department of State, Deutsche Welle and Rádio Moçambique have shown that the United States would be assisting with a further donation of US$40 million (€38.2 million) to support the displaced and victims of natural disasters in northern Mozambique.
The financial grants were part of the “emergency response to the food needs of those displaced by war and terrorism, social protection, building resilience to climate change and nutritional support for children” and the priority was to prevent “people in a situation of food insecurity in Mozambique.
The U.S. Government’s lead development agency, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has officially renewed its partnership, and ready to implement foreign assistance funding of US$1.5 billion to promote a more peaceful, prosperous, and healthy Mozambique.
Late January, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and French TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné witnessed the signing and exchange of fresh additional agreements that permit prompt resumption of natural gas project in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique. It aims at contributing to the country’s sustainable development and give access to energy to as many people as possible.
TotalEnergies said in a media release that the collaboration agreement illustrates commitment to deploying its multi-energy strategy in southern African country. The natural gas project was suspended in March 2021 after an armed attack that left the province devastated, about 3,100 deaths and more than 817,000 residents displaced.
In a media briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called for an end to the violence and on the international community to provide sustainable support to reduce the suffering of the displaced population and local host communities in northern Mozambique.
Tragically, conflict has not subsided, and thousands of families are still being forced to leave their homes because of attacks by non-state armed groups. Five years on, the humanitarian situation across Cabo Delgado has continued to deteriorate and displacement figures have increased by 20 per cent to 946,508 in the first half of this year. The conflict has now spilled into the neighbouring province of Nampula, which witnessed four attacks by armed groups in September affecting at least 47,000 people and displacing 12,000.
The organization has been continuously responding to the needs of displaced populations in Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces with humanitarian assistance and protection support. We are providing shelter and household items, helping survivors of gender-based violence with legal, medical, and psycho-social support, and supporting displaced people to obtain legal documentation. UNHCR also supports people at higher risk, including children, people with disabilities, and older people.
The UNHCR is in favour of returns for displaced families when these are voluntary, safe, informed, dignified, and when the conditions are conducive, including once basic services are restored to ensure their sustainability.
The refugee organization considers security conditions to be too volatile in Cabo Delgado to facilitate or promote returns to the province. However, growing protection needs and limited services for those who have chosen to return home must still be urgently addressed by relevant stakeholders, including authorities and humanitarian actors.
It is working closely with the government and other partners to support and advocate for the inclusion of all displaced populations in national services. As of September 2022, the US$36.7 million needed for UNHCR to deliver life-saving protection services and assistance in Mozambique was only 60 per cent funded.
Cabo Delgado province, in northern Mozambique, is rich in natural gas, but has been terrorized since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), about 784,000 persons have been internally displaced by the conflict, which has killed about 4,000, according to the ACLED conflict registry project.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community are keeping peace in northern Mozambique. African leaders at their summit of the African Union held in Addis Ababa highly praised Mozambique’s approach to fighting terrorism in Cabo Delgado, involving troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community Military Mission (SAMIM). Mozambique, with an approximate population of 30 million, is one of the 16-member Southern African Development Community.
Torture is ‘widespread’ and likely underestimated in DR Congo
Torture is “widespread” and underestimated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the abuse involves armed groups and State forces, UN investigators said on Wednesday.In findings issued in a report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in DRC (UNJHRO) and the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), the authors indicated that 93 per cent of the 3,618 registered cases of “torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” affecting 4,946 victims had happened in areas experiencing conflict.
Of that total, covering the period between 1 April 2019 and 30 April 2022, there were 492 cases of sexual violence, affecting 761 victims.
“Torture can never be justified, no matter the circumstances or the context. The DRC authorities must act with urgency and determination to put an end to this scourge,” said Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif, in a statement.
Members of the DRC’s defence and security forces were responsible for 1,293 cases, according to the report, while 1,833 cases were attributed to armed groups. “In certain contexts, (they) subjected victims to torture in collusion with members of the security forces,” it said.
Victims suffered torture and ill-treatment either during detention or “while exercising their fundamental rights, such freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, or during detention”, the report’s authors continued.
Highlighting the low number of complaints filed against perpetrators and the “widespread nature of torture” compared with the “magnitude of the violations”, the report explained that only two army officers, 12 national police officers and 75 members of armed groups were convicted of torture during the reporting period.
‘Hate speech’ surging
The development comes amid concerns that the DRC has been gripped by a ‘proliferation’ of hate speech, just 12 months ahead of presidential elections.
In a scheduled debate at the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, also expressed deep concern about the alarming security situation in the east of the country, where two provinces have been placed under military rule since May 2021.
Withdrawing UN peacekeepers MONUSCO from the country “could have serious consequences on the human rights situation in the east of the country and the sub-region”, said Christian Jorge Salazar Volkmann, Director of Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division at OHCHR.
Member States at the Geneva forum heard that although armed groups carried out most rights violations and abuses between 1 June 2021 and 31 May 2022, DRC security personnel were responsible for over four in 10 cases, out of an overall total of 6,782.
The military rule in Ituri and Nord Kivu provinces which came into effect on 6 May 2021 “do(es) not appear to have deterred armed groups from attacking civilians, particularly in internally displaced persons sites”, said Mr. Volkmann.
Some 2,413 people – 1,778 men, 471 women and 164 children – had been killed by armed groups in the first year of military rule in the two provinces, he said, compared to 1,581 people (1,076 men, 365 women and 140 children) during the previous 12-month period.
Nearly 5.5 million people had been forced from their homes by the violence, amid a resurgence of the M23 armed group in Nord Kivu’s Rutshuru province, which has attacked DRC “defence and security forces, civilians and (UN peacekeeping Mission) MONUSCO”, the OHCHR official added.
Other attacks by militias the ADF and CODECO against civilians and humanitarians “may constitute serious crimes under international law”, Mr. Volkmann said, in an appeal for an end to the violence and a nationally-led demobilization and reintegration plan.
While welcoming the life sentence handed down to Mihonya Chance Kolokolo, leader of militia group Raïa Mutomboki, for crimes against humanity and war crimes including the recruitment and use of children, rape, murder and the violation of natural reserves in South Kivu, the UN human rights official highlighted the “slow pace” of justice for “almost all” priority cases committed by Kamuina Nsapu armed group between 2016 and 2018 in the Kasai region.
To tackle hate speech, OHCHR has recommended practical measures to the authorities in the DRC.
These include implementing a proposed law on racism, tribalism and xenophobia which is under discussion in Parliament.
“One year before the next presidential elections, it is important that the alleged perpetrators of these messages be brought to justice and held accountable, and to prevent the security situation from further deterioration,” said Mr. Volkmann.
Five years of violence in northern Mozambique has forced nearly a million to flee
Nearly one million people have fled extreme violence perpetrated by non-State armed groups in northern Mozambique over the past five years, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported on Tuesday. As the conflict in Cabo Delgado province has not subsided, UNHCR is appealing for both an end to the bloodshed and greater international support for the displaced and local communities hosting them.
The situation has had a devastating impact on the population, Spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh told journalists in Geneva.
Beheadings, rapes and burnings
“People have witnessed their loved ones being killed, beheaded, and raped, and their houses and other infrastructure burned to the ground,” he said.
“Men and boys have also been forcibly enrolled in armed groups. Livelihoods have been lost, and education stalled while access to necessities such as food and healthcare has been hampered. Many people have been re-traumatized after being forced to move multiple times to save their lives.”
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate, with displacement figures increasing by 20 per cent, to over 946,000 in the first half of this year.
Neighbouring province affected
The violence has now spilled into the neighbouring province of Nampula, where four attacks were reported in September affecting at least 47,000 people and displacing 12,000.
“People displaced during those latest attacks told UNHCR that they are scared and hungry. They lack medicine and are living in crowded conditions – with four to five families sharing one house,” said Mr. Saltmarsh.
“Some sleep under open skies. Lack of privacy and exposure to cold at night and the elements during the day, create additional safety and health concerns, particularly for women and children.”
Meeting the needs
UNHCR has been responding to the needs of displaced populations in Cabo Delgado, Nampula and Niassa provinces, through humanitarian assistance and protection support.
Staff are providing shelter and household items, helping survivors of gender-based violence with legal, medical, and psycho-social support, and supporting displaced people to obtain legal documentation. UNHCR also supports those at higher risk, including children, people with disabilities, and older persons.
The agency requires $36.7 million to deliver life-saving protection services and assistance in Mozambique but has so far received around 60 per cent of the funding.
Promoting safe returns
Despite ongoing displacement in Cabo Delgado, some people have returned to their homes in areas they perceive as safe, said Mr. Saltmarsh.
Last month, UNHCR and partners conducted the first protection assessment mission to Palma, a town in the far north-east which saw deadly attacks in March 2021. Most of the 70,000 residents were displaced and the majority have returned in recent weeks.
“People who have lost everything are returning to areas where services and humanitarian assistance are largely unavailable. UNHCR is concerned about the risks people face should they continue to return to their areas of origin before conditions are stabilized,” said Mr. Saltmarsh.
While UNHCR is in favour of returns when they are voluntary, safe, informed and dignified, current security conditions in Cabo Delgado are too volatile for people to go back to the province.
“However, growing protection needs and limited services for those who have chosen to return home must still be urgently addressed by relevant stakeholders, including authorities and humanitarian actors,” he said.
In the interim, UNHCR is working closely with the Mozambican government and other partners to support and advocate for the inclusion of all displaced populations in national services.
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